Wednesday, June 6, 2012

cpd23 - Thing 5: Reflective Practice

I have to admit, I'm a bit muddled by this week's "thing". Reflect on what I've already learned? That's kind of what I do in my blog already. So I guess the key for this assignment is to go back and find something that stands out, and then maybe reflect (further) upon that?

As this is only Thing 5, and I just wrapped up Thing 4 moments ago, I'm focusing on the first three "things". Of those three, the one I want to focus on is Thing 2: Investigate Other Blogs.

I'm finding I do this a lot.... Not only with regard to cpd23 or even Library topics, but with things I find interesting, in general. I'll admit, a small number of the blogs I follow are solely for entering sweepstakes or for collecting new recipes; however, the majority of my subscriptions do tend to follow various individuals' current trains of thought. I think it's fascinating that there are many of us out there who feel the need to jot down our thoughts and then share them with whoever might be interested. Is that exhibitionism? And the fact that we tend to be the same people who go and read other's writings? Does that make us voyeurs?

cpd23 - Thing 4: Current Awareness - Twitter, RSS, and Storify

Well, I actually did this "thing" a week and a half ago, just never got around to writing about it! Woops!

I've been on Twitter for a little over two years, but since I don't have a smart phone, and I don't allow myself internet access on the phone I do have (hubby and I are, um, frugal), I don't ever get on Twitter via my phone. I do go onto the site from my PC now and then--mostly during shows I'm watching. My favorites are The Celebrity Apprentice and MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenges. During those shows, a lot of times, I'll log on to see what people are Tweeting, and I'll occasionally Tweet as well. Mostly, though, I don't get much use out of my account at this point. I am following 172 'people' and I have 22 followers, but it's not a very useful tool for me at this time....

Now, RSS feeds are a different story completely! I've been using Google's RSS Reader for a year an a half, but I've subscribed to various blogs for a while longer... I learned about Reader in my Teaching and Learning in a Digital Environment class, and I have to say, that was one of the most valuable lessons for me! I love having all the posts to blogs I'm following in one spot. In fact, signing up for Reader (which is super easy if you're already using another member of the Google family, like Gmail, etc.) made me see how simple it would be to follow more blogs. Through trial and error, I've separated my blogs by subject (i.e. Library stuff, Cooking and Cleaning, Knit and Crochet, Family and Friends, etc.), and I only get updates when there's a new post. I log onto Reader via Google Chrome, and I've got it pinned as an app tab, so it's always there for me when I open the browser. Whenever there are updates to any blogs I'm following, the Reader tab will "shimmer" to let me know I've got something new to read. (I have my Gmail as an app tab in Chrome, too, and it also "shimmers" when I've got new mail.) I actually posted on my personal blog about RSS feeds and Reader about six months ago. I love that I can add or drop feeds as I like--I've got 28 subscriptions as of today. Love my RSS Feeds!

I had never heard of Storify before, which is cool. I do love trying new things! I made up a storify about the new face of heroines in literature. I did have fun making it, but at this time, I don't really see a use for it, personally. I'm not currently employed, and I'm not longer a student. I think it would be a great tool for a book talk at school, or perhaps some sort of promo or report for work. I suppose, if I come across some subject that I feel really passionate about and I need to make it known to my circle of friends, I could use Storify to do that... But with Pinterest, Facebook, and Blogger as my main outlets right now, Storify seems to be a bit redundant. I'll keep it in mind, though, for future reference!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

cpd23 - Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

Ooh, I like this Thing, because I've actually kind of been consciously working on this for a while now anyway!

  • Name Used - I tend to choose the same user name for all the things I join or sign up on. I like to be consistent, make myself easier for others to find me between different mediums, and, frankly, I prefer to follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. (I'm referring to myself as "stupid", not you, Dear Reader.) I sign up for everything using a phonetic spelling of my first name and last initial: trayceetee. That is, Tracy T. It came from a combination of two friends' indirect suggestions. Once, I e-mailed one friend (back when I had first began using e-mail, in about '96 or so), and I accidentally signed my name Trayc. We both got a giggle out of it, and then I started signing my name that way on purpose. I would tell people, "You can look at it as a phonetic spelling of my name--tray-see--or you can view it as the shortened version of my name--trace. Another friend began online journaling (I don't think they were calling the sites "blogs" just yet), and I began doing so as well... We'd read each other's entries, but they were pretty much private to most other folks. Anyway, she chose her first name, middle name, and last initial for her user name... but she spelled them phonetically: Jodi Lee B. became "jodeeleebee". I loved it! My new user name was born: trayceetee
  • Photograph Used - I'm not 100% consistent with this one. I have two or three actual photographs I use between most venues, and then I also have an animated photo of me that I use for some venues, as well. For my Blogster account, I've got an old family photo that I use--we took a new one around Christmas, so I really need to update that! I'm not so much concerned about sharing what my family looks like with other cpd23 users (not that I want to hide, either), but I have another, personal blog that I  share with members of my family, so the family photo is for their benefit. 
  • Professional/personal identity - Once I began taking courses in Library Science, almost three years ago, I began to tidy up my visible profile. In my very first class, we read a book and discussed our digital footprint. It's creepy, if you think about it, how much information about us is 'out there,' especially if you're younger ('born digital' was the term used). I would have to say I use the "profersonal" approach (cool word!). I'm trying to be careful what goes out there, but I can also say, at least with respect to e-mails, I've had to learn the hard way that once something is sent, it can't be taken back. 
  • Visual brand - This is tougher for me, because I really enjoy playing around and changing things up. I'm frequently changing the backgrounds of my blogs, browsers, Twitter page, etc. I know there are folks that change these types of things around far more often than I do, which makes me feel better; I'm also happy in the knowledge that I don't go with a plain white background and never touch it up. I let the mood move me at will.....
Name check on Google: I actually do this every two or three months. I just started within the past year or so, but I've found it's a great way to keep tabs on what I have floating around "out there". The funny thing is, my husband's cousin has the same exact name as me. She's been married before, but she's no longer married and she resumed using her maiden name. Although her first name is actually Theresa, she's gone by Tracy since childhood. And we have the same middle name! So when I plug my name into Google, all this stuff about her is mixed in with stuff about me. She's set a great example for me, in sort of a bad way, because she apparently did some customer service support for whatever company she works for, and someone posted complaints about her on that company's website.... Those complaints (there are two or three over a period of about six months) are the first things to pop up.... Lucky for me, the name of the company and the location are both in the forefront of those complaints, and I've neither worked for that company, nor have I lived in that city or state. We both have LinkedIn profiles (I do have a picture of myself on mine, so that helps, I think--she doesn't have a photo on hers); we both have Twitter accounts, though our nicknames are wildly different; and we both have Facebook accounts, using our first and last names, but I've got my maiden name listed parenthetically, as well. 
I have gone out and cleaned up a few things from time to time. I wouldn't say I had anything inappropriate out there, but I don't necessarily need my old MySpace profile to still be live, or my song requests on my favorite local band's website to be listed, etc. 
This does remind me, though, that I want to set a reminder for myself to do this again in three months. Great activity!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

cpd23 #2: Investigating other blogs

Okay, so I know this is a bit on the late side... it was meant to be the second assignment for last week. I could fill some space with excuses, but I'm not going to bother. I just didn't get to it sooner.

I did, however, check out a couple of other bloggers also working on the cpd23 project. Of course, I've got one friend I know who I guess I've sort of helped entice into beginning this project--La bibliotcaria habla / The librarian speaks--we plan to travel together through this 23 Things journey! (We've discovered we're good travel-buddies!)

I am also following Susan's Blog 2012, as she found me first and commented on my first entry. I'm excited because she's writing from Berkshire, U.K. I hadn't expected to meet knew folks online through this project outside my own state, much less outside my country! I'm anxious to see what similarities and differences we write about, being in different parts of the world but in the same profession!

Two other blogs I've already signed up to follow are Amanda the (almost) Librarian and kendrabookgirl. I love having Google Reader so I can put all my RSS feeds into one place. Um... at least, that's what I thought I was doing! These latest two additions to my list both use WordPress instead of Blogger, so now I have the joy of figuring out how to incorporate all of my blogs into one reader. *Please, don't anyone tell me... I want to see if I can find out on my own! I'll post for help if I can't... thanks!*

Thursday, May 10, 2012

cpd23 - Thing 1: Blogs and Blogging

I've been blogging, on a personal level, for a few years now. If you look at my profile, you'll be able to see a link to my other blog. I'm a lot more sporadic about making entries, lately. I've had a lot of other things going on.....
I just graduated last weekend from UNO, with my 2nd Bachelors Degree. My first degree was in English, with minors in Psychology and Sociology. It took me quite a while to discover that there really wasn't anything, specifically, you could do with an English degree (unless, of course, you got a teacher's certificate and went into teaching). I had thought, at the time, that I would be a writer... turns out, you don't really need a degree to do that. It also turns out I didn't end up writing, other than blogging in recent years. Hmph! So much for that! Anyway, a couple of years ago, I discovered that I would really love working in a library. That was a lovely little journey, and I'd be happy to speak more to that topic if you'd like me to, sometime. But my point is that now I'm done with college (at least for a while) and I have a more useful degree... one which I hope to put to use soon (i.e. by finding a job in a public library!).

In addition to going to school, I'm married and am a Stay-at-home-Mom (SAHM) to three awesome kids. Thus, most of my homework was completed right around the time of day that I happen to be writing this blog entry. Yes, the middle of the night, the wee hours, whichever you want to call it. I work best when I've got some time and space to myself, and that doesn't happen until everyone else is in bed. No worries--I enjoy this time alone.

I recently began writing blog entries for Nebraska Learns 2.0. I've done three or four entries for that project, and I've loved every one of them! Then I saw that this project was resurfacing or restarting, and I thought, 'What the heck! I'm almost done with school, and summer's on the way, so why not take on one more thing?' Really, I think I wanted to ensure I'd still have a reason to stay up late getting "homework" done.

To be honest, though, the reason I've enjoyed Nebraska Learns 2.0, and the reason I look forward to cpd23, is because I can't get enough of learning! I think we information professionals are in such a great position, because we are continually learning AND continually sharing what we've learned with others. It's a fabulous journey I'm on, and I look forward to more adventures!

Thing #55: Free Play

How fun--the chance to pick my own Web 2.0 tool to share! I can't wait to see what other people are posting, because this is my favorite thing... sharing new tools. This time, instead of learning about one, I get to share one I already know I like AND hopefully learn about a whole bunch more!

The "thing" I've decided to talk about is Glogster. I think it's a great tool for people in school, though some folks do run into blocks on their school internet. However, I'd hate to see it limited just to students using it for book talks. (Even though that's what I did with the Glog I made. More on that in a bit.)

Glogster, if you don't know, is kind of like an animated blog/bulletin board combo. You come up with a theme or main idea, then you add pictures, video, portions of songs, words, etc. You can create a background, come up with different icons and texts to use within items, embed links. I really feel like there are scads of options, limited only to the user's imagination.

While Glogster is free--users earn G points to use towards tools within the program--I've used the EDU version. I signed up, using my UNO e-mail address, acting as a teacher. Although I have no teacher's certificate, I consider myself a teacher when acting in the librarian role. (Yeah, it's a stretch, I know; but it was actually suggested by an instructor of mine.) The EDU version, if you sign up as a single teacher, is free and has what I would call mid-range options. That is, there are more things available than to non-EDU users, but not as many options as those for paying customers. There are four paid options available on the EDU side, in addition to the free version.

I learned about Glogster when I was taking my Teaching and Learning in a Digital Environment (TLDE) class at UNO in the Spring of 2011. Basically, the whole class was focused on learning and using Web 2.0 tools. It was a blast! I'd seen a few people use Glogster, but I hadn't had a need for it at the time. Then, this past fall, I was taking a Children's Literature class, and we had to create a project for a book talk. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I was the only one using Glogster... there were a lot of Animotos and Prezis, which I'd also learned about in TLDE. But I had so much fun creating my Glog, and I know my instructor really got a kick out of it.

Here's just a picture of the Glog:
Out of My Mind Glog thumbnail

However, I feel you'd be doing yourself a favor if you clicked on the link below and actually did some exploring within the Glog. You'll get a much better idea of what Glogging is all about!
My First Glog

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thing #53: Visualize Your Resume

I really enjoyed this assignment. It gave me a chance to review my actual/traditional resume, refine a few things on LinkedIn (which I only just recently signed up for), and then put a more creative twist on my work and education history.

I've been kind of nervous about the looks of my resume. Although I've had many jobs over the years, most of those were in my high school and college years. I didn't bother listing that multitude of jobs (we've all worked at places like Runza and Walgreens, right? do those jobs we held for three or four months at a stretch really count?). Instead, I began with my first "gig" after graduating from college with my first Bachelor's degree. I did hold a job for seven years at an insurance company, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I've spent the past several years as a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM)... something I find to be the most important job I've ever had, but not necessarily something potential employers might be impressed with or find to give me a leg-up over other potential hires. Anyway, those past several years as a SAHM have pretty much put a huge gap in my resume. I've always wanted a way to show that, while I wasn't working for pay outside the home, I've been working very hard for the past ten years at something I believe in.

Creating "interactive resumes" on these sites (I tried both) kind of validated those feelings I'd been having--that I wasn't wasting my time or being lazy by not working outside the home. I would like to think potential employers would agree. 

I recently attended the PLA 2012 Conference in Philadelphia, and I was pleased that my mentor for the trip suggested I get/make business cards ahead of time. Not being employed anywhere at the moment, I made some up on my own. I chose to use the interactive resume I'd created on on the business cards. I found that one to be a bit more reflective of my own personality than the one, though I do like them both. I'd like to think that, if there are potential employers out there who would not only value the education and experience I have, but they'd also maybe appreciate the innovative twist on the standard resume. I honestly felt more confident, in making up those cards, having the link to my site on there--whereas, if I hadn't created that site just before my trip, I may not have bothered making up business cards at all. I did pass out a few at the Conference, and I have to admit, I felt more sure of myself because I had them to hand out in the first place. I will use them more in the future, and I'm grateful to have had this assignment (right at this point in my life) to inspire me to be more proactive with my job search!

Here's my page: (I tried to insert a little logo and then embed the link into the logo, but I'm not quite tech-savvy enough to get there yet.....)

Here's my page:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thing #52: Share Your Interests with Pinterest

I first heard about Pinterest when I attended Women of Faith this past summer. Patsy Clairmont talked about how addicted she was to it, and I thought, "Hmm... I easily become addicted to things, especially where the Internet is concerned. I'll give Pinterest a go!" It's true, it IS addictive.

I haven't had a need to use Pinterest in my "work" life, per se. But I have been using for my own personal interests. I'm kind of hoping this will help me with some of the chaos that I feel has started taking over, with regard to cooking (I've got cook books galore and stray recipes all over the place) and knitting/crocheting ideas (I tend to start a project and not finish it, but the most fun part is finding ideas online!), etc. I think it can also be helpful when planning a family vacation or maybe creating a gift wish-list (for oneself and/or for other family members). I've only been using Pinterest a little bit so far, but I foresee myself using it more and more. However, I don't think it'll get to a point where Pinterest will replace Facebook, for me. They're both very social, I agree, but there are still so many more facets to Facebook......

Thing #51: Keeping up with RSS

This assignment is something I've pretty much been doing already--I set up a Google Reader account approximately one year ago, when I was taking my Teaching and Learning in a Digital Environment class. The instructor had mentioned her Reader account and she showed us some of the blogs she was following. At the time, I was following a few friends' blogs, but nothing that had to do with my personal interests OR my career. Since that time, I've signed up for several different blogs and have the updates sent to my Google Reader account. And for several months, I was vigilant about checking Reader every day. Then summer came. I found myself busy doing things with my kids, running them around, swimming and doing other activities, etc. I realized I wasn't quite reading my updates on a daily basis. Once the fall semester began, I hoped I'd again be vigilant about checking updates. Alas, this wasn't the case! I even added an app to my Kindle Fire when I purchased it in late November... but whenever I get on my Kindle Fire, reading blog updates is not what I want to do.

I think part of my problem is that I haven't organized my posts. I did have them organized, for a while. Then, in the fall, I tried using a new RSS feed. I found that I didn't like it as much as Google Reader, but by that time, I'd messed around with all my subscriptions, etc. Now my feeds are all just coming in willy-nilly.

Lucky me! There's Thing #51.1: How Can I Organize My RSS Feeds. At first, I just thought this was going to tell me how to create little subheadings and move each feed into the corresponding heading. I already knew how to do that, just hadn't taken the time.... But no, Thing #51.1 actually gave me more insight on weeding my feeds. Why do I need to remain subscribed to something that hasn't been updated in four years? Seriously? Or why should I subscribe to contest feeds when I really hate to be bothered with reading the multiple feeds? (Some of those contest feeds were updated, like, four or five times a day, EVERY day!) So I've fine-tuned my subheadings (Cooking, Family & Friends, and Library Stuff) and I've weeded my feeds down to only the ones I really have an interest in. Lastly, I downloaded the Google Reader Filter by Feed/Folder userscript, and I kind of messed around with it a bit to see how it works. However, since I just did some hefty weeding, I'm going to hold off on using the filter for a while.... 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners

The hardest "habit" among these 7 1/2 habits is going to be the first one: Begin with the end in mind. I feel like I'm always starting projects without having an end in mind. I guess it's what has always gotten in the way of my writing (I initially thought I'd be a novelist, but I was intimidated by all the research that might have to go into it, and I could never really foresee an ending to any story ideas I had). Looking back, I guess I'd have to say that was what I did wrong when I went to college the first time. I thought the goal was to get the degree. Wow! Even writing that down, it sounds kind of silly. I mean, sure I love getting an education, and I definitely had fun going to college my first time around. And yes, I did end up with a degree. But it was not a degree I felt was particularly useful (i.e. I didn't find it leading me on a path to any particular career), and I didn't have the foresight to attempt to get good grades. Getting the degree itself was enough of a goal for me. Big mistake! But I'm learning from that experience......

I think the easiest "habit" will be to use technology to my advantage. I've done this for as long as I can remember. I've always had an interest in learning new things, especially new types of technology. I'm not always able to afford the latest gadgets or tools, but the interest is pretty much always there. I have a bit of a knack for it, too, so I'm able to figure out how things work and, oftentimes, I'm able to help share that knowledge with others. In that aspect, I'd say the 6th and 7th habits kind of go hand-in-hand for me.

I'm on an incredible journey!